Skip to main content

You don't really own your phone

None of the parts that are yours will work without the parts that aren't.

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry wants you to "throw away" your Chinese smartphone. Seriously — it advises you not to buy any smartphones made by Chinese companies and to throw away the ones you might already own because of the software that powers them.

This stems from research that shows how flagship phones from Xiaomi, which are also some of the best Android phones, built for the European market, can detect and remotely censor things like any expression of freedom for Tibet or Taiwanese independence. Of course, this isn't all of the story. As many of us understand, this is normal for products sold in China — even Apple and Google bow to Chinese regulators when necessary. As we've seen before, sometimes Western software versions from Chinese brands leave tracking and censorship tools in place.

To be perfectly clear: We reached out to Xiaomi directly, and a company spokesman adamantly denied actual wrongdoing regarding Xiaomi censorship:

"Xiaomi's devices do not censor communications to or from its users. Xiaomi has never and will never restrict or block any personal behaviors of our smartphone users, such as searching, calling, web browsing, or the use of third-party communication software.

Xiaomi fully respects and protects the legal rights of all users. Xiaomi complies with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)."

So you probably don't really need to toss out your new Xiaomi phone. But this does lead to a more extensive conversation around who really owns the product when you buy a smartphone. Hint: It's not you. Welcome to the wonderful world of copyrights.

When you purchase a phone, you own the physical parts you can hold in your hand. The display is yours. The chip inside is yours. The camera lenses and sensors are yours to keep forever and ever. But none of this, not a single piece, is worth more than its value in scrap without the parts you don't own but are graciously allowed to use — the copyrighted software and firmware that powers it all.

You're only leasing the software.

The companies that hold these copyrights may not care how you use the product you paid a license for, and you don't hear a lot about them outside of the right to repair movement. Xiaomi, like Google and all the other copyright holders who provide the things which make a smartphone smart, really only wants you to enjoy the product enough to buy from them the next time you purchase a smart device. Xiaomi pissing off people who buy its smartphones isn't a good way to get those same people to buy another or buy a fitness band or robot vacuum cleaner.

When you set up a new phone, you agree with these copyright holders that you'll use the software on their terms. You also agree that the copyrighted works are subject to being altered anytime, but not by you — we call those updates.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. Every creator deserves to profit from their work, and if an amicable agreement between you and them can be made, then everything is good. The not-so-good part (usually) arises when the company that does own everything has ideas about improvements that you don't agree with. That's when heavy-handed ways of monitoring your photos can happen. Or when software could make sure you don't post pro-Democracy in China content to social media.

But it isn't going to change any time soon. For many of us, it's not even a concern because it has very little effect on the day-to-day use we get from our phones. But maybe it should. Maybe, even if you aren't concerned about censorship or that "big tech" can monitor the photos you upload and download, you should want a revamp of the situation. Phones aren't cheap. We should demand a little more.

Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

The hidden cost of food delivery

Noah Lichtenstein Contributor Share on Twitter Noah Lichtenstein is the founder and managing partner of Crossover , a diversified private technology fund backed by institutional investors, technology execs and professional athletes and entertainers. More posts by this contributor What Studying Students Teaches Us About Great Apps I’ll admit it: When it comes to food, I’m lazy. There are dozens of great dining options within a few blocks of my home, yet I still end up ordering food through delivery apps four or five times per week. With the growing coronavirus pandemic closing restaurants and consumers self-isolating, it is likely we will see a spike in food delivery much like the 20% jump China reported during the peak of its crisis. With the food delivery sector rocketing toward a projected $365 billion by the end of the decade, I’m clearly not the only one turning to delivery apps even before the pandemic hit. Thanks to technology (and VC funding) we can get a ri

Cyber Monday Canada: Last-minute deals for everyone on your list

Best Cyber Monday Canada deals: Smart Home Audio Phones, Tablets & Accessories Wearables Laptops & PC Components Amazon products Gaming Televisions Cameras Lifestyle & Kitchen Toys & Kids Cyber Monday Canada is here, and retailers are rolling out the red carpet for customers who want to shop for everything from tech to kitchenware to games and everything in between. Unlike years past, Cyber Monday Canada deals look a bit different than normal. Instead of retailers trying to pack their stores with as many shoppers as possible, we're seeing tons of online deals that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your home. We've rounded up our favorites below, so feel free to browse through the best of what Canada Cyber Monday has to offer! This list is being updated with new Cyber Monday deals all the time, so check back often. Spotlight deals It's a Switch Nintendo Switch Fortnite Edition bundle $399.95 at Amazon It's a Switch.

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 15 Pro Buyer's Guide: 50+ Differences Compared

The iPhone 15 Pro brings over 50 new features and improvements to Apple's high-end smartphones compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, which was released two years prior. This buyer's guide breaks down every major difference you should be aware of between the two generations and helps you to decide whether it's worth upgrading. The ‌iPhone 13‌ Pro debuted in 2021, introducing a brighter display with ProMotion technology for refresh rates up to 120Hz, the A15 Bionic chip, a telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, Macro photography and photographic styles, Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field, ProRes video recording, a 1TB storage option, and five hours of additional battery life. The ‌iPhone 13‌ Pro was discontinued upon the announcement of the iPhone 14 Pro in 2022, but it is still possible to get hold of it second-hand. Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two iPhone models is best for you and serves as a way to c

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course